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White Society Colloquium: Introduction to a Lacavanian Idiolect: Notes on the Unconscious

Date: Feb 23, 2018 8:00 pm
Pascal Sauvayre, PhD and Orsolya Hunyady, PhD
Introduction to a Lacavanian Idiolect: Notes on the Unconscious
Discussant: Donnel Stern, PhD
Friday, February 23, 2018 8pm

Lacan and Sullivan have elaborated very different psychoanalytic idiolects.  So different that native speakers from each may be unable to understand each other.  What could 'dismantling the alienating structure of the imaginary' mean to an analyst trying to 'break the hold of parataxic distortions'?  Well, more than one may think at first glance, as we will try to show.


To our knowledge, a comparative study between the works of Sullivan and Lacan, who come from very different intellectual cultures that can be contemptuous of each other at times, has never been done.


Both of the idiolects are grounded in the language of Freud; but while Sullivan elaborates his dialect in explicit contradistinction to it, which perhaps hides more overlap than meets the ear, Lacan elaborates his explicitly as an extension of Freudian language, which in turn minimizes important differences.  We have found that visiting a foreign land and developing a bilingual perspective helps sharpen our fluency in 'our' interpersonal idiolect.


We use here the concept of the unconscious for these travels.  While the unconscious is rarely if ever mentioned by Sullivan, it is everywhere in his work.  Conversely, while Lacan considers the unconscious as the common foundation of all psychoanalytic endeavors, the claim of commonality detracts from the uniqueness of his conceptualization.


The radically different terminologies conceal a surprising degree of similarity between the two approaches, especially when it comes to clinical considerations  around distortions (whether we call them parataxic or imaginary), the self (that can be referred to as the self-system or the ego), and the unconscious.


Learning objectives:

The attendee will learn:

1) the initial steps to move between Lacanian and Sullivanian idiolects.

2) how to formulate a comparative study of the concept of the unconscious between Lacan's and Sullivan's works.

3) how the clinical theories and treatment goals of Lacan and Sullivan overlap.


Pascal Sauvayre, Ph.D. is a supervising analyst and faculty at the William Alanson White Institute.  He is an executive editor for Contemporary Psychoanalysis, and he studies and writes at the disciplinary boundaries of psychoanalysis.  He has a practice in NYC.

Orsolya Hunyady, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, psychoanalyst working in private practice in NYC. She is on faculty at the Clinical Internship Program at Adelphi University and the Adult Psychoanalytic Training Program at the William Alanson White Institute. She is supervising at Adelphi University and in the IPPP program of WAWI. She is an Associate Editor for the journal of Contemporary Psychoanalysis, and author of several articles in the field of psychoanalysis.